Consultant for artists

Experienced, independent & confidential

Career strategy
Writing and editing support
Proposal support
Portfolio review 

Concept development


Advanced research

Project management
Brokering partnerships
Arts business development
Emerging and established clients
Delivered remotely and in person

To discuss a consultation email:

Photograph: Elise Manahan / University of Auckland

I am an experienced, independent consultant and mentor for selected artists, both emerging and established. I am ambitious and goal oriented both for myself and others, working hard to support artists to achieve the results they seek, and build rewarding, sustainable long term careers. I am confident advising on work in all visual art media, alongside art writing, curation, film, design, projects and events.

My work is client responsive and diverse, from advisory on creative processes and conceptual development, through to career positioning strategy and work editing a range of documents such as applications, exhibition and funding proposals, artist statements, bios, CVs, etc.

I was a Lecturer in Photo Media at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design from 2017 to 2020, teaching across contextual and studio based programmes in photo media and fine arts, and am research rated in the national framework. I left Whitecliffe in early 2020 to focus on a number of writing and research projects alongside devoting more time to independent consultancy, particularly after the impacts of Covid-19 deferred a planned PhD. I have lectured in Photography and Design at Auckland University of Technology in a sessional capacity since 2022. 

Outside of lecturing in tertiary education, my formal mentoring experience began through a number of organisations, some of which I still contribute to, while this work has also evolved into independent consultancy, both for artists and small arts organisations.

My foundation as an educator began as a fine arts graduate with work as a tertiary Tutor in Media Studies and Academic Writing at Massey University; New Media, Industrial Design and Media Studies at Victoria University of Wellington; and Fine Art and Video Production at Wellington Institute of Technology in the late 2000s.

I returned to study towards an MFA at Elam in 2010, and as a recent graduate in 2014 I was awarded a funded mentorship with artist Peter Madden through Artists Alliance. By 2017, I was mentoring in the same programme. In 2018-19 I also contributed to a pilot mentoring programme initiated by The Big Idea. Since 2018, I have contributed to the Browne School of Art’s Visual Arts Mentoring Programme (VAMP), working with both emerging and some more established artists. I continue to work with selected VAMP graduates on an independent basis.

In 2017, I initiated a new course for emerging photographers through Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts. I now host a range of courses and workshops, both in person and online, through Art.Work, Browne School of Art and the Lake House Arts Centre, and am regularly developing new independent programmes and initiatives to support artists.

To discuss a potential consultation email:


Amberleigh Carson
Founder, Art.Work

Emil McAvoy has been a regular workshop presenter with Art.Work since 2019, and has consistently delivered high quality experiences for our audience. I always enjoy working with Emil, his depth of knowledge and enthusiasm are inspiring. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with Emil into the future.

Monique Lacey
Artist, MFA, represented by Scott Lawrie Gallery
Image: Monique Lacey, Paper Tiger (2021), cardboard, plaster, resin and paint.

Emil, you have managed to turn my word soup into a concise and considered artist statement with your amazing editing skills. Talking to you about my practice, you easily clarified the key points and helped me translate these into a coherent document.

Doug Dillaman
Filmmaker, critic, writer & editor
Image: Doug Dillaman, YOU COULD HAVE SEEN THE MONA LISA, short film, 2021.

I’ve enjoyed knowing Emil for many years, and especially appreciate his keen intellect, passion, and insight. His ability to discuss and analyse both broad-scope and narrow detail in artwork and creative practice is a treasure.

For my film YOU COULD HAVE SEEN THE MONA LISA, Emil was a key advisor who pushed me to interrogate every detail before taking my work to the world. His feedback and encouragement helped lift the film to a level where it has been accepted for its first festival (DocEdge 2021), with hopefully more to come.

I have and will continue to highly recommend Emil to any creative person in a quandary looking for an objective, compassionate and detailed perspective that can help them advance, be it with a specific creative problem or a generalised approach to making a living in the arts.

Linda Gilbert
Artist, BVA, LLB
Current MFA student at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design
Image: Linda Gilbert, Magnetic Fields Under Neon Skies (2020), acrylic on panel.

I contracted Emil to work with me on some strategic planning to support my art career. I chose Emil because his credentials are good and he is experienced in navigating Aotearoa’s art world.

Very quickly Emil got up to speed with my practice and added value to my planning process. His advice was strategic, communication clear, relevant and targeted. Emil is outcome oriented and client focused. Emil’s writing and editing skills are also superb.

His experience really shines through as he generously shares his wide knowledge about the theory and practice of contemporary art within Aotearoa and overseas. We got through a huge amount in a short period of time which represents real value for money.

I can recommend Emil to any artist who could benefit from an objective, knowledgeable professional who will support your direction of travel in the contemporary art industry.

Emil is also a really nice person to work with.

Campbell Kneale
Artist, experimental musician and curator of The Miracle Room
Image: Campbell Kneale, Listening to Motley Crue, Painting Cats (2020), acrylic on card.

I have been working with Emil since very early 2020 in his capacity as personal creative mentor through the Visual Arts Mentoring Programme (VAMP) run by the Browne School of Art. This has been a very positive experience for me and I have found Emil’s work invaluable to what I consider to be very significant progress this year. 

Emil is unfailingly professional, knowledgeable, and has been able to see the possibilities for extension in even my most tentative ideas. He has allowed my creative process to travel its own merry path, always remaining positive and deeply engaged in the process, even as we have both undergone the tremendous creative and personal upheavals that 2020 has brought us.

It would be fair to say that my art has disappeared down a rabbit-hole this year and emerged in a brand new space that I could not have possibly anticipated… which is exactly what I hoped for… and Emil has proved to be a steadfast ally in my ongoing war-on-stagnation, embracing and cajoling my practice through probing conversation that is both careful and challenging whilst respecting that all the creative decisions are still mine to make. I have enjoyed this process immensely and I have benefitted enormously from Emil’s input.

I wholehearted recommend Emil’s work to anybody who is seeking creative challenges and I would be more than happy to speak further on the subject to anybody wishing to engage his services. 

Karen Sewell
Artist, MFA
Image: Awakenings IV (2020), installation, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell for Artweek Auckland. Custom PVC sphere, helium, nylon line, organza mesh. Photo C/- Artsdiary.

I met Emil through signing up for a professional artist development workshop through Art.Work. The work shop was beneficial, very informative and helpful. I was impressed with Emil’s knowledge and ability to communicate the information. It was concise, relevant and robust.

From there I decided to engage his professional mentoring services to help me develop further in all areas of my art practice. For example I wanted to:

  • More clearly identify and understand the territory my work was located in
  • Improve my ability to write robust proposals that got results
  • Clarify my vision and set goals for a career path that covered the short, medium and longer term
  • Increase my professionalism across all areas of my practice including social media and web presence, for example

Emil has met my expectations in every respect. He brings the lenses of experienced artist, insightful writer, art critic, and knowledgable educator to bear on the work. These, along with his natural gifts of a sharp mind and strong intuition pack a powerful punch as a mentor. The goals I had identified have been achieved and more.

Emil is approachable, supportive and flexible. My practice has gained traction through the work we have done together and I can absolutely say this would not have happened, certainly not as quickly, if I had continued to work as I had been without professional support. 

The investment I have made in the mentoring process with Emil has proven to be well worthwhile. My work has improved alongside my proposal writing, leading to proposals being accepted and better opportunities being offered.  Emil’s support has significantly helped me to understand, contextualise and speak about my work, to grow in confidence, to move through limiting mindsets and to step up to greater challenges and opportunities.

I highly recommend Emil as a mentor to anyone considering this process.

Mo Stewart
Visual Arts Mentoring Programme (VAMP) graduate, Browne School of Art
Current MFA student, Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design
Image: Mo Stewart, Veil (2020), acrylic and ink on canvas.

Emil and I first met through the VAMP mentoring programme at Browne School of Art in 2018. He supported me throughout the year and has continued to mentor me as an independent consultant. During that time I entered and won the Estuary Art Award. Emil encouraged and guided me to create a plan, write a proposal and ultimately exhibit with Malcolm Smith Gallery in Auckland, where I had a solo show in 2019.

Emil has played a huge role in building my confidence, supporting my research and writing, and encouraging me to apply for the Master of Fine Arts Programme at Whitecliffe College in 2021 where I was accepted.

I have come a long way since we met and started working together, and I firmly believe his planning strategies, advice and support has played a tremendous part in my career and will continue to do so.

Mary MacGregor-Reid
Artist and designer, MFA
Image: The Daughter of the Firmament, The Dweller Between the Waters (Foam of Ocean’s Tongue) (2020), photograph from Communicating Vessels.

I started working with Emil as a mentor in May 2020, just after our first Covid-19 lockdown – it was a strange, demotivating time but I wanted to keep my art-making momentum up. 

In the last year Emil has kept me on my toes with short-term, medium-term and long-term goals based on how I want my art practice to evolve. Instead of getting bogged down in the mire of 2020, I’ve found a clear direction for new work, applied for exhibitions, continuously researched, written pieces, taken an art research trip to Wellington and planned a book. I’ve also secured several exhibitions.

The art world can be difficult to navigate, so being able to meet with a mentor to discuss ideas has been a real boon. Due to Emil’s skill in writing, I’ve found him to be a great resource when writing proposals and artist statements – often one of the hardest tasks for artists. 

Michael Blewden
Senior Research Consultant, Artist, PhD
Browne School of Art VAMP graduate
Image: Michael Blewden, painting (detail), 2018, BSA graduate show (courtesy of Artsdiary)

I was enrolled in the Browne School of Art’s Visual Arts Mentoring Programme in 2018, and was fortunate to have Emil as my mentor for the year.

I have valued Emil’s very supportive and constructive style of mentoring. I have found his feedback to be responsive and tailored to my needs, always very insightful, honest and challenging in a very positive way.

I have appreciated the way he has thought deeply about my work and has strived to make linkages and suggest next steps in a very empowering way. Emil is an attentive listener and is able to draw on a vast store of knowledge, experience and critical thinking in order to advance my own thinking and practice.

Zimeng Scott Cai
Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design BFA Graduate
Image: Documentary series, Covid-19 lockdown in China, 2020.

Emil’s mentorship was instrumental in helping me to earn a place in the BFA programme at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design in 2019. He provided comprehensive guidance towards the development of my portfolio in an attentive manner.

Not only his amendments are precise and insightful, but he also helped me to elevate the content of my work. His excellent skills in editing could also be appreciated by anyone who is a non-native English speaker.

Above all, I see Emil as a friend that cares about my work and personal development. It is only fair to say that I could have not make it into the program without his help.

Clare Gemima
Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design BFA Graduate, now based in New York
Image: Emil McAvoy and Clare Gemima at her Whitecliffe graduate exhibition, 2017.

Emil McAvoy was a lecturer of mine at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design in 2017, the final year of my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.

Emil offered critical and analytic feedback on my writing and engaged in conversation about my conceptual research and studio practice. This in turn helped me achieve more authenticity and harmony within my essay writing. It also helped me become more confident in speaking about what I do and how I create objects and artefacts in the studio which was crucial in my final year.

Emil offers a special type of teaching – his level of knowledge is intimidating, while his attitude is approachable and contagious. Emil taught me that it was okay to brainstorm together and to take my time in articulating what I am trying to accomplish, particularly in writing.

Alice Berry
Artist and designer
Image: Paintings, Alice Berry.

Working with Emil was really helpful for my proposal. He posed questions and ideas I hadn’t thought of and helped me to get specific on the details of what I was trying to achieve. So far the result has been great as I am on the shortlist for my application, awaiting final results!

Grae Burton
Operations Manager, Lake House Arts Centre

We were very pleased to work with Emil in delivering his 2021 online programme ‘Springboard: Professional & Conceptual Development for Emerging Artists’. His astute contemporary take on the current state of art in Aotearoa has certainly helped our emerging artists to take their process to the next level. We look forward to working with Emil again in the future.

Maggie Gresson
Former Executive Director, Artists Alliance

I first met Emil when he was a mentee as an MFA graduate on the Artists Alliance Mentoring Programme in 2014. It wasn’t long before Emil was a mentor on the same programme, having proved himself as an artist and arts worker with good connections and an impressive knowledge and commitment to the sector. Emil is highly recommended as a person who can assist in the development of your career.


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